The Indian Air Force Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) Competition, commonly known as the MRCA Tender, is an ongoing competition to supply the Indian Air Force with 126 Multi-Role Combat Aircraft.
The air force requirement for the MMRCA is based on a maximum all-up weight of 14,000-30,000 kg. (31,000-66,000 lb.). India plans to procure 18 aircraft in flyaway condition and produce 106 locally under license through technology transfer. Delivery starts within 36 months of contract signing and will be completed 48 months later.
Six aircraft were bid for this multi-billion dollar contract, which has been touted as India’s single largest defence deal ever. These represent some of the latest combat aircraft being developed or fielded today.
■Lockheed Martin F-16IN Super Viper
■Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
■Saab Gripen NG
The Rafale is a twin-engined, delta-wing, multirole fighter designed and built by France’s Dassault Aviation. RAFALE supportability and mission readiness capitalise on the undisputed track record of the current generation of French fighters such as the combat-proven Mirage 2000.
Powered by two Snecma M88 turbofans (prototype examples used two General Electric F404-400s), the Rafale has a top speed of over Mach 1.8 (1,900km/h) and a combat radius of 1,000nm (1,850km).
The four nation Eurofighter Typhoon is a foreplane delta wing beyond-visual-range and close air fighter aircraft with surface attack capability. Eurofighter has high agility at supresonic speed and ’supercruise’ capability, that is it can fly at sustained speeds of over Mach 1 without the use of afterburner.
The company carrying out the development of the aircraft is Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH based in Munich and wholly owned by Alenia of Italy, British Aerospace of the UK, CASA of Spain and DASA of Germany. The company responsible for the development of the EJ200 engine is Eurojet GmbH, in Munich which is owned by Rolls Royce, Motoren und Turbinen Union, Fiat Aviazione and ITP.
The EJ200 engine has been developed by Eurojet GmbH, in Munich which is owned by Rolls-Royce, MTU Aero Engines, Fiat Aviazione and ITP.
Lockheed Martin F-16IN Super Viper
The F-16IN Super Viper is a unique new fighter sharing a heritage with the world’s only fifth generation fighters – the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22 Raptor. Evolutionary integration of fifth generation technologies makes the F-16IN the most advanced fourth generation fighter in the world today.
Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
The Super Hornet is about 25% larger than its predecessor, the F/A-18C/D but contains 42% fewer structural parts. The single seat F/A-18/E and the two seat F/A-18/F flies greater ranges, with heavier payloads, uses a more powerful engine and provides greater survivability.
Saab Gripen NG
The JAS 39 Gripen is a fourth-generation fighter manufactured by Swedish company Saab. Designed as a swing-role type capable of performing multiple missions.
Powered by a single Volvo Aero RM12 afterburning turbofan based on the General Electric F404, the Gripen is capable of speeds of up to Mach 2 and has a maximum range of 2,800km (1,510nm).
Weapon options include a 27mm Mauser internal cannon, Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and Raytheon Paveway II laser-guided bombs. The aircraft is also being used to support the development of MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual-range air-to-air missile.
Mikoyan MiG-35 (Fulcrum-F)
The Mikoyan MiG-35 is a further development of the MiG-29M/M2 and MiG-29K/KUB technology. It is classified as a 4++ generation jet fighter by its manufacturer. The MiG-35 is now classed as a medium-weight aircraft because its maximum take-off weight has increased by 30 percent which exceeds its previous criteria of classification.
With an increase to its MTOW as much as 30 percent, the MiG-35 is now considered in the medum weight class. The aircraft is codenamed “Fulcrum-F” by NATO and is considered a full-fledged multi-role platform utilizing the latest in targeting and tracking systems comparable to Western aircraft types.
Advanced computerized avionics in control of fly by wire flight surfaces combined with thrust vectoring give the aircraft a speed range from 0 mph forward speed to supersonic, all the while maintaining the maneuverability to simultaneously evade enemy missiles while engaging numerous targets. The MiG-35 can deliver up to 12,000 lbs. of ordnance against air, ground and maritime targets with pinpoint accuracy.
Considerations: Strategic considerations may influence government’s final decision.
Zhuk AE AESA radar the most powerful amidst the MMRCA contenders.
Russia, on top of a full technology transfer, is offering India help in building its own advanced radar.
100 per cent technology transfer for the MiG-35, including the radar and all its systems.
Airframe barely improved from MiG-29
Life cycle cost of Russian fighters is traditionally high
Battle-tested, frontline fighter with the US Navy
can function as refuelling tanker with external fuel tanks
US restrictions on modifications and end usage
Earlier generation design, dating back to 1980s
Heavy, 30-ton aircraft, expensive
Tested modern fighter, has logged over 100,000 combat missions globally
Single-engine, 19-tonne fighter, price competitive
Advanced Northrop Grumman APG-80 AESA radar
Four F-16 production lines functioning world-wide
Earlier vintage F-16s in service with Pakistan Air Force
Contemporary fighter, still evolving
High performance, high-end technology, including supercruise
Offering India development partnership
No end user restrictions, easy transfer of technology
EADS already helping to develop India’s LCA
No combat experience
Heavy, 25-ton aircraft, expensive
AESA radar still under development
Can land, refuel, rearm and take off in 10 minutes
Light, single-engine, highly cost-effective
Selex Raven AESA radar with advanced swashplate technology
Willing to hand over source codes for high-tech equipment
SAAB offering an advanced version of a state-of-the-art a second generation AESA (advanced extended search array radar), The radar will come with its software source code.
Gripen is way to dependent on other countries (engine, radar, or the main weapons), what would be a problem if India face sanctions again and it could not share any techs with LCA without permission of them.
Has US components, including engines and avionics
India has never operated a Swedish fighter
France deploys on land and aircraft carriers
IAF’s Mirage-2000 fleet creates comfort level with Dassault
Transfer of technology smooth; no end user restrictions
Only non-US fighter with deployed AESA radar
Limited combat experience
25-tonne, twin-engine aircraft, expensive